The Pre-Argument Conference

Program in the Sixth Circuit

Court of Appeals


an evaluation



James B. Eaglin

Federal Judicial Center






This publication is a product of study undertaken in furtherance of the Center’s statutory mission to conduct and stimulate research and development on matters of judicial administration. The analyses, conclusions, and points of view are those of the author. This work has been reviewed by Center staff, and publication signifies that it is regarded as responsible and valuable. It should be emphasized, however, that on matters of policy the Center speaks only through its Board.




Cite as J. Eaglin, The Pre-Argument Conference Program in the Sixth
Circuit Court of Appeals (Federal Judicial Center 1990).





First Printing



 Table of Contents


1.   Background

2.   Objectives and Methodology

3.   Summary of the Major Findings

4.   Description of the Program

5.   Evaluation Methodology

6.   Findings

7.   Conclusion

Appendix A: Tables

Appendix B: Evaluation Design

Appendix C: Pre-Argument Conference Documents





List of Tables


    1.   Method of Disposition of Appeals

    2.   Submission Rate by Type of Appeal

    3.   Settlement Rate by Type of Appeal

    4.   Percentage (Number) of Submitted Cases in

            Which Briefing was Delayed, by Type of  Brief

    5.   Time From Docketing to Submission for Appeals Submitted

    6.   Time From Docketing to Disposition for Appeals Submitted

    7.   Time From Docketing to Disposition for Cases Settled

    8.   Time From Docketing to Disposition for All Cases

    9.   Time From Docketing to Closing for Appeals Submitted

  10.   Motions and Orders Filed by Type and Method of Disposition

  11.   Percentage (Number) of Cases with Dun Notices, by Notice Per Case

  12.   Appeals Disposed of with Written Opinions

  13.   Decisions Disposed of Without Written Opinion

  14.   Timeliness of Filing and Aggregate Brief Length, by Type

  15.   Attorney Responses About Selected Program Effects

  16.   Attorney Responses About Other Benefits of Program to Clients

  17.   Attorney Responses About Net Effect of Program on Case Time of Submitted Cases






     Throughout this study, staff of the court of appeals were extremely cooperative and generous with their time. During the planning process, we greatly benefited from the discussions with and input from staff of the clerk’s office, especially Clerk of Court John Hehman (now Circuit Executive of the Third Circuit), Systems Administrator William Eggemeier, and Deputy Clerk Leonard Green (now Clerk of Court).

     Given the limited resources available for the conduct of the study, much of the collection and automation of the case file data as well as the mailing and distribution of attorney and judge questionnaires was undertaken and completed with careful attention by Mr. Eggemeier and his staff. Circuit Executive James Higgins was especially helpful and consistently supportive.

     Senior Conference Attorney Lance Olwell and Conference Attorney Dave Aemmer gave us complete access to the conduct of the program. Their dedication and commitment to the conferencing program was always evident. Their patience and willingness to allow every aspect of their work to be subjected to scrutiny is gratefully acknowledged. Teresa Mack and Iberia Mobley-Lutz, both secretaries to the conference attorneys, provided immeasurable assistance during the entire study.

     Humble acknowledgment of the assistance provided by colleagues at the Federal Judicial Center is also made. Ted Coleman, William B. Eldridge, Patricia Lombard, Danny Mevec, Anthony Partridge, Donna Stienstra, and Jeannette Summers all helped to ensure that errors and omissions were eliminated from the study. Any that remain are in no way attributable to them.